What to Expect as Your Central Texas Lawn Goes Dormant
Why Your Lawn Goes Dormant
As a defense mechanism to combat the challenges of winter,
warm-season grasses will go dormant. Think of dormancy as your lawn taking a nap until the weather permits it to thrive once again in the spring.
Winter challenges include:
– Freezing temperatures
– Moisture problems
– Harsh weather conditions
– Less sunlight
When the temperature drops, so does the soil temp. This occurrence
slows the growth of your grass which is why it goes dormant. When Your Lawn Will Go Dormant
Your lawn will go dormant when temperatures drop below 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 6 degrees Celsius. This is when you’ll see changes above ground and grass will slow in growth. This typically occurs during late fall and early winter. Dormant Lawn Characteristics
It can be hard to discern whether
brown grass indicates a dead or dormant lawn. Dormant grass is typically brown in color, straw-like, and patchy. While you can’t prevent your warm-season turf from turning brown in the winter, a healthy lawn will green up nicely after winter dormancy.
A true defining characteristic of dormant grass is the
live grass crowns that wouldn’t be present in dead grass. A good test to tell if your grass is dormant or dead is to gather a handful and give a small tug. If there is resistance, your grass is still alive. Dead grass will pull free from the ground. The live crown will enable the grass to green up and grow once again once temperatures warm up.
You may notice some odd patterns of green grass throughout your dormant lawn. Fear not,
this is only your lawn settling into dormancy. This is known as unsynchronized dormancy. These patterns may appear as your lawn emerges from dormancy as well.
Unsynchronized dormancy is caused when temperatures fluctuate from warm to cold. This causes your lawn to be confused, unsure if it’s time to sleep or stay awake! Some parts of your yard will respond to the colder temperatures and turn brown and dormant, while other sections will respond to warmer temps and resist dormancy.
You don’t need to worry about unsynchronized dormancy, it isn’t uncommon and will resolve itself on its own. However,
be aware of the difference between unsynchronized dormancy and disease or pest damage. Fungal diseases will appear in a circular pattern, overtaking an entire solid spot while insect disease will appear as a path of damaged turf.
Proper Dormant Lawn Care
Because winter is a resting period for your turf,
here are a few things you can do to allow the best dormancy:
Clear debris from the yard that could cause additional stress
Eliminate leaves that could provide unnecessary moisture and disease
Avoid traffic on the lawn that can encourage stress
When lawn presents signs of wilt, water when temps are above freezing. It’s good to water every two to three weeks for 15 to 20 minutes when temperatures permit
Pull any weeds that may pop up randomly
Taking care and paying attention to your yard during the winter months will
help your turf green-up wonderfully in the spring! For information about emerging dormancy, check out our other blog.
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